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The ending of Umbrella Academy season 2 explained

After only narrowly escaping the end of the world — which they also caused — the superpowered Hargreeves siblings are back together again in season two of Netflix's The Umbrella Academy, although it takes them a while to get together. You see, when Five (Aidan Gallagher) jumped them all through time in order to avoid Vanya's (Ellen Page) apocalypse, he wound up accidentally sprinkling them throughout the early 1960s in Dallas, Texas. 

The second season of The Umbrella Academy follows each of the Hargreeves siblings as they navigate an unfamiliar decade fraught with challenges, including the apocalypse they inadvertently brought with them from the 21st century. As they work to establish new lives, locate one another, find a way back to 2019, and circumvent yet another doomsday, the Hargreeves also have new allies to protect and new enemies to fight, all while trying to stay two steps ahead of the time-policing Commission, which is still out for blood no matter what year it is. It's a lot to keep track of, and if you reached the end of season two feeling a little fuzzy on some of the details of where we wound up — or how we got there — we're here to help.

What was the Handler's plan for Harlan?

After seemingly being killed by Hazel (Cameron Britton) in the season one finale, season two of The Umbrella Academy reveals that the Handler (Kate Walsh) actually survived her bullet wound to the head and fully intends to return to work leading the Commission. However, following the events of season one, she is horrified to discover that she's been demoted to the rank of lowly pencil pusher. She doesn't last long in her new role before going rogue, determined to claw her way back to the top by strategically using her adopted daughter Lila (Ritu Arya) to protect or take out targets of her choosing.

When the Handler sees that young Harlan (Justin Paul Kelly) has acquired abilities similar to Vanya's, she sees in him another opportunity to gain power. Summoning the force of the entire Commission, the Handler, Lila, and every field agent arrives at the farm where Harlan is literally erupting with energy. While the Handler claims their goal is to take out the Hargreeves siblings, her personal aim is to acquire Harlan as her own. It's the same thing she did with Lila as a child, when she killed her parents and took their superpowered offspring for herself. The Handler's plan is thwarted, but not before we see her attempt to kill Lila, probably because her loyalties were beginning to waver. Most likely, the Handler saw in Harlan an opportunity to have a new child soldier to brainwash and weaponize, so she could replace Lila with a child who wouldn't ask questions.

Who is Lila?

Every Hargreeves sibling winds up with a colorful story about how they spent their time in the 1960s prior to Five bringing them all back together, and Diego's comes with one of the most intriguing new characters of The Umbrella Academy season two. Lila is introduced as a fellow patient at the mental hospital where Diego is sent after he attempts to kill Lee Harvey Oswald and prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. After she helps Diego escape and earns his trust, we learn that she is actually a time traveler herself, and that her mother is none other than the Handler, who adopted her after the Commission killed her parents in 1993.

Her backstory gets even more complicated than that, though. It turns out that the Handler ordered the murders of Lila's parents because she already knew about Lila's special abilities. Lila was born at 12:00 on October 1, 1989, just like all of the Hargreeves siblings, as the result of one of the 43 mysterious pregnancies and births that we learned about at the beginning of the series premiere. Hargreeves adopted seven of the babies, but the other 36 remained a mystery... until Lila. Like the Hargreeves siblings, Lila has her own unique powers; she can mimic anyone else's power, turning their own abilities back on them like a perfect, weaponized mirror — which explains why the Handler wanted to claim her as her own.

What caused the 1963 apocalypse?

When the Hargreeves clan arrived in the 1960s, they all assumed the world was safe until 2019, when Vanya would blow up the moon and annihilate all life on Earth. However, when Five arrived in Dallas in 1963, he witnessed the last moments of his siblings' final stand against a Soviet invasion before an arsenal of nuclear missiles wiped them all out. Obviously, this was a different version of 1963 than the one in our history books, which led Five to conclude that his siblings had somehow caused the apocalypse.

Over the ten days leading up to November 25, 1963, Five and the other Hargreeves siblings desperately attempt to piece together the events leading to doomsday. Eventually, it's Diego (David Castañeda) who uncovers the event that precipitates the nuclear war — an explosion at the FBI building in Dallas during President Kennedy's motorcade, which was blamed on the USSR. The U.S. then attacks Soviet-backed Cuba, leading the USSR to bomb Anchorage, Alaska, which leads to all-out war.

However, it wasn't the Soviets who caused the explosion, but Vanya. While trying to flee Dallas with '60s housewife Sissy (Marin Ireland) and her son Harlan, Vanya used her powers to attempt to break through a police blockade. She was subsequently taken into FBI custody and interrogated using electric shocks, after the agents determined she must be a Russian operative. The shocks caused her powers to overload, and she sent out a massive energy wave, killing the FBI agents and ultimately causing the explosion.

What happens in each of the different timelines?

While the first season of Umbrella Academy includes a fair amount of time travel, it's nothing compared to the wibbly-wobbly events of season two. Throughout the season, multiple alternate timelines unfold, and it can be tricky to keep track of them all. The primary timeline from season one — in which John F. Kennedy is assassinated on November 22, 1963, the Hargreeves siblings are born and adopted in 1989, and Vanya causes the apocalypse on April 1, 2019 — is eradicated from the opening moments of season two, when Klaus (Robert Sheehan) and Ben (Justin H. Min) land in 1960 and begin changing things.

In this timeline, in which Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) arrives in 1961, Luther (Tom Hopper) in 1962, and Diego and Vanya separately in the fall of 1963, the Hargreeves family's interference in the timeline leads to Kennedy surviving the events of November 22, war with the USSR, and doomsday on November 25. Then Five arrives, and jumps back to November 15, spinning off a new timeline.

This time, Five's involvement brings the siblings together in different ways, so that Allison, Diego, and Klaus all show up at the FBI building to save Vanya. While her powers knock them all unconscious, the ghost of Ben is able to get to his sister and defuse her before she can blow up the FBI building, thus preventing doomsday.

However, this timeline leads to the Handler shooting all of the Hargreeves siblings and Lila, and then getting killed herself by Axel (Kris Holden-Ried). In his dying moments, Five rolls the timeline back just a few seconds, spinning off one final timeline. This is the timeline that finishes the season, which somehow leads to the Umbrella Academy never being created at all, and the Sparrow Academy existing in its place.

What did Vanya do to Harlan?

The first thing Vanya does upon arriving in 1963 is get hit by a car driven by Sissy, who subsequently brings Vanya home to her farm to recuperate. Vanya has amnesia, but after being discovered by Luther and pursued by the Swedish triplets working for the Commission, she gradually begins to rediscover her powers, even if her past is still a blank. In episode four, Vanya is pushed to use her powers in a big way, when Sissy's non-verbal, neurodivergent son Harlan runs into a nearby lake and sinks out of sight.

Using her powers to lift the water out of the lake, Vanya is able to carry Harlan to safety, then proceeds to use CPR to attempt to revive him, during which she unintentionally passes some of her powers to Harlan. At first, Vanya doesn't notice anything different about Harlan, but gradually, she begins to suspect that he's now capable of superhuman feats. Later, we see the extent of Harlan's borrowed power when he becomes upset after accidentally killing his father, and unleashes an energy vortex that causes the surrounding area to freeze while beams of energy swirl around him. Eventually, thanks to her trusting relationship with Harlan, Vanya is able to get close enough to transfer his power back to herself — or so she thinks. The last we see of Harlan, he's making a small toy bird levitate in his hand, implying that he still retained some of Vanya's power, although we don't yet know how much.

What happened to the Commission?

Although the stated purpose of the Commission is to protect the integrity of the timeline, the organization went significantly off track when the Handler decided to begin manipulating events to suit her own purposes. Recognizing that the Hargreeves siblings desperately want to return to their own time, the Handler uses that to her advantage by striking a deal with Five — she'll give him a briefcase (the Commission's time machine of choice) that will transport him and his siblings back to an apocalypse-free 2019 in exchange for Five assassinating the Commission's board of directors.

Five agrees, although the Handler exploits a loophole in their deal that makes it impossible for the Hargreeves clan to travel back to 2019 as planned. Once the board of directors is gone, the Handler bypasses the chain of command and assumes control of the Commission, then promptly commandeers all of its field agents to wage war on Five and his siblings. Vanya winds up killing all of the agents, and the Handler herself is killed by disgruntled field agent Axel, who then leaves the Commission and strikes out on his own. After that, absent the Commission's prior leadership, the remaining members of the organization vote to put mild-mannered analyst Herb (Ken Hall) in charge. We don't know what the future of the Commission holds, but without its previous leadership or any of its field agents, it's bound to look very different.

Who are the Majestic 12?

In their attempts to figure out what their adopted father Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) has to do with the assassination of John F. Kennedy — after seeing a blurred image of him in the Frankel footage given to them by Hazel — Five and Diego head to their future-father's umbrella factory to see what they can learn. While there, Five comes across an invitation to a gala hosted by "Hoyt Hillenkoetter," whom their helpful '60s assistant/conspiracy theorist, Elliot (Kevin Rankin), tells them is a member of the "Majestic 12."

According to Elliot, the Majestic 12 are a "secret committee [of] scientists, military, deep state," a shadow government that Kennedy was working to expose. Although Elliot says only 11 have been identified, Five and Diego discern that Reginald Hargreeves must be the 12th member. Sure enough, after Kennedy is assassinated, Hargreeves meets with the Majestic 12, who admit that they orchestrated the assassination to stop Kennedy from prying into their organization. However, Hargreeves is upset, saying that he'd thought Kennedy was "not to be touched." When the 12 then threaten to expose Hargreeves' alien identity if he doesn't continue giving them his advanced technology, he removes his human disguise, and presumably kills them all.

What happens to Sissy and Harlan?

Being hit by a car and losing all your memories may seem like it should have more downsides than upsides, but not for Vanya, who quickly befriends Sissy, the driver of the car, and her son, Harlan. It becomes clear pretty early on in season two that there may be something more than friendship between Sissy and Vanya, and before long, the pair has acted on their mutual affection and attraction. They begin discussing the possibility of running away together, far away from Sissy's controlling husband Carl (Stephen Bogaert), and even make an attempt to do so before their plans are disastrously thwarted by the police.

After that failed escape attempt, in which Sissy finally sees Vanya use her powers for the first time, Sissy has second thoughts about running away together, not because she is afraid of Vanya, but because she fears what associating with someone with Vanya's abilities would mean for Harlan's life. Once Carl is killed, Sissy is tempted to return with Vanya to the more progressive 2019, but considering how the Hargreeves family got separated when they first arrived in the '60s, she decides she can't risk Harlan winding up on his own. Plus, she fears that their association with Vanya might put Harlan at risk no matter what time period they're in. Ultimately, Sissy and Harlan say goodbye to Vanya, and go to stay with Sissy's friend in California, although Harlan's lingering powers suggest that their paths may someday cross again.

What happens to Ray?

Vanya isn't the only Hargreeves sibling to fall in love in the 1960s; while working at a beauty parlor that doubles as the headquarters of a local civil rights group, Allison falls in love with an activist named Raymond Chestnut (Yusuf Gatewood), and the two wind up getting married in 1962. At first, Allison doesn't tell him the truth about her past, and never uses her powers, even as their movement meets increasingly hostile resistance in the segregated South. But once Allison's brothers begin coming out of the woodwork, Allison comes clean to Ray about everything, and even gives him a Pretty Woman-esque demonstration of her powers.

By the end of the season, though, Allison knows she needs to return to 2019, even if it means leaving her husband in 1963. She asks Ray to come with her, but he can't bring himself to abandon his civil rights work, even after Allison assures him that there's still a lot of work left to be done in the 21st century. Realizing they'll never see each other again, Allison offers to Rumor Ray, in order to make him forget her, but he refuses to give up his memories of their time together. Ray remains in 1963, committed to the ongoing work of justice and equality, and Allison says goodbye with a heartfelt letter urging him to keep fighting for a better world.

Why was Luther calling Jack Ruby at the end of the season?

Except for Five, all of the Hargreeves siblings are forced to make new lives for themselves when they first arrive in the 1960s. For the gorilla-sized Luther, he plays to his strengths by becoming the body man for Jack Ruby (John Kapelos), a local nightclub owner. Luther makes his living using his superstrength to enable Ruby to win bare-knuckle boxing bets, and doing whatever else Ruby asks of him to keep his business running smoothly.

Midway through the season, Luther fails to win a fight for Ruby, and their relationship is severed. Yet at the end of the season, as the Hargreeves siblings say their goodbyes to their loved ones in 1963, we see Luther trying to call Ruby one last time. Ruby doesn't answer, and instead picks up a gun after watching footage of Kennedy's assassination on TV. While it would be reasonable to infer that Luther was merely trying to say goodbye to the closest friend he had in 1963, there may have been more to Luther's phone call than that.

Historically, Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who assassinated Kennedy, on November 24, 1963. Ruby was then arrested, and died in prison a little over three years later. It's possible that, in addition to saying farewell on November 23, Luther was trying to caution Ruby away from the deadly path he was on and maybe even save his life. But since Ruby never answered the phone, we'll never know.

Where did each of the Hargreeves siblings wind up?

A lot happened in season two of The Umbrella Academy, with some of the Hargreeves siblings undergoing years of character development, while others experienced just a few weeks, and returned to 2019 significantly changed from when they left.

Luther finally learned to function as a team player, and also seemed to reach a healthier emotional place with his siblings, especially Allison. Diego fell in love with Lila, and briefly considered joining the Commission as an agent, a possibility that still remains open. Allison got married again, and this time, she was honest with her husband about who she was. She also became a civil rights activist, organizing protests and sit-ins. Unfortunately, her brief marriage was forced to end when she returned to 2019, but she made it clear that her advocacy would live on.

Klaus accidentally started a cult based on his knowledge of the future and his "prophetic" recitation of song lyrics that hadn't yet been written. He also tried to use his time in the '60s to save Dave (Calem MacDonald), the man he fell in love with in Vietnam in season one, but eventually had to make peace with the fact that he couldn't control Dave's decisions. Five learned to use his powers with more precision, and Ben finally found the courage to fully transition into the afterlife after saving Vanya. As for Vanya, she fell in love, learned to control her powers, and decided to stop keeping secrets and hiding from her family.

Why is the 2019 they return to different than the one they left?

Throughout the second season of The Umbrella Academy, the Hargreeves siblings have one unified goal: to return to 2019, but this time without the apocalypse. Several times throughout the season, they get close, and by the end, they've finally procured a Commission briefcase and believe all their problems are solved. When they arrive back in 2019, they're initially relieved to find that it's April 2, the day after the world ended in their original timeline. But they quickly realize that doomsday isn't the only thing that's changed; the Umbrella Academy is now the Sparrow Academy, their father and Ben are still alive, and there are a new group of siblings living in the mansion who don't seem to recognize the original six.

What the siblings failed to take into consideration was that their presence in the 1960s would irrevocably alter the timeline. Many of their actions impacted a number of people outside themselves, such as the members of Klaus' cult, the other activists who worked with Allison, or the FBI agents that Vanya killed. Additionally, they made contact with their father and told him some of what the future held, which could in turn have affected his future actions. So while doomsday never happened, all sorts of other parts of the timeline were also changed thanks to the Hargreeves' interference in the past, making the future they returned to unrecognizable from the one they left.